Will the winless Detroit Lions become the first team in NFL history to go 0-17?
What we have here is an opportunity to make history.
Last week, playing at the Los Angeles Rams, the Detroit Lions unleashed a kitchen sink game, successfully executing an onside kick and two fake punts and still lost in what turned out to be one of just two contests that didn’t end in a double-digit margin on the day. The Rams won by nine, but failed to cover the massive 17-point spread at MaximBet.
If you’re a Rams fan, and I am, it was maybe the most annoying game in the history of the NFL. Detroit was never going to win. Even if Detroit had managed to take a lead when they got into the red zone with a little under five minutes to go, they still had no chance.
Matthew Stafford, who had wasted so many years with the Lions, was going to bring the Rams back to win in the last minute because that’s just a thing he does. He has 33 fourth-quarter comebacks on his resume, second only to Tom Brady (41) and Ben Roethlisberger (36), amongst active players.
The fact that Stafford was destined to do that to his former team was trumped only by Jared Goff.
You see, where Stafford made his mark with historic last-second victories, Goff has done just the opposite. That red zone pick was preordained the minute he took the field at SoFi Stadium. No one that watched Goff play in L.A. from 2016 to last Sunday expected anything else.
He’d thrown so many picks in the paint in Orange County, why waste one more opportunity? This was probably the last game in SoFi he’ll ever play? Goff saw the moment, his own destiny before him and took it.
Or, you know, served it up on a silver platter with a fully-loaded baked potato and side salad with all the fixins.
There are cuneiform tablets unearthed in the Middle East from 3,000 B.C.E. that predicted that interception.
I promise you, every Rams fan watching the game said the same thing aloud when Jalen Ramsey stepped in front of the gift Goff tossed with Aaron Donald rushing in his face, “Yep, there it is.”
Campbell and the Lions had left no ankle unbitten. There was not a kneecap in SoFi that didn’t have teeth marks on it as the final whistle blew, and Detroit was still winless at 0-7.
We talk a lot about the possibility of the perfect season, how hard they are to do in the NFL. Only one team in NFL history has done it, the 1972 17-0 Miami Dolphins. Three other teams, the 1934 Chicago Bears (13-0), the 1942 Bears (11-0) and the 2007 New England Patriots (16-0) all had undefeated regular seasons, but each lost in their championship game. Still, it’s quite an accomplishment.
But to go completely defeated, to not win a single game in the modern NFL, should be impossible.
With open free agency, a worst-to-first draft, a salary cap and, more importantly, a salary floor, no franchise should be capable of going winless in a season. Yet, it’s happened twice with the 2017 Cleveland Browns and 2008 Lions both going 0-16.
Detroit has the distinction of being the first NFL team to ever go 0-16. They were the first non-expansion team to go winless in a non strike year since World War II.
Ironically enough, one of those winless WWII teams were, you guessed it, the 1942 Detroit Lions.
We have a 17-game season now. Does the Detroit franchise once again have the moxie, the determination and the sheer will to do the improbable? Can the Lions be the first team in league history to go 0-17?
At some point you have to actively root for it, right? Their schedule is not favorable for a completely defeated season. Sadly, they have some winnable games coming up.
They host the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday (+3 betting underdogs at MaximBet) and they could, if they show up and start sharpening their teeth on shinbones, pull off the upset there. They welcome the Chicago Bears and rookie Justin Fields to Ford Field on Thanksgiving.
Detroit plays at the Atlanta Falcons on the day after Christmas and if there’s one team that could find a way to lose against the NFL’s best losers this year, it’s the Falcons. They’re cooking up a way to flush that game away in their secret loser lab right now as I type this.
But you know what? I’m gonna have hope here. I’m choosing to believe that Goff, Campbell and this Lions crew have it in them to shit the bed over the next 10 games and add this season in the record books. To slip the surly bonds of victory. To reach the high, un-trespassed sanctity of loser history. To put out their jaws and bite the face of God.
Green Bay Packers at Arizona Cardinals (-6)
Remember how I wrote last week that you can’t pick the Cardinals to lose against a good team just because “it’s time.” Well, here is where the rubber meets the road.
Devante Adams is in the league’s Covid-19 protocol and, even if he’s vaccinated (let’s hope), he still needs two consecutive negative tests 24 hours apart to get on the field Thursday night. If he makes it, he’s not practiced at all.
Aaron Rodgers is 2-4 against Arizona in his career, including two epic last second defeats in two of the greatest playoff games in NFL history.
I like the Cards to win, but not to cover a touchdown. That’s a lot against a 6-1 Green Bay team.
Cardinals 27, Packers 24
Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.
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